Defense of Marriage Act

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a federal law passed in 1996 that both created a federal definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman and expressly gave states permission to refuse to recognize marriages entered into by same-sex couples in other jurisdictions. The part of DOMA that defines marriage at the federal level – known as Section 3 – was a radical departure from 220 years of federal practice, which was to rely on each state to define marriage and to recognize any marriage legally entered into under state law as a valid marriage for federal purposes.

We are challenging Section 3 of DOMA on behalf of our client Edie Windsor in Windsor v. United States, which is currently pending before the Supreme Court of the United States. In June, the Court will rule on whether DOMA violates equal protection by treating married gay couples as unmarried in over 1,100 federal programs.

DOMA Zombies Surface in Congress

DOMA Zombies Surface in Congress

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:13am
Since the Supreme Court's landmark Windsor ruling last June striking down the core of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA), the federal government has moved, with commendable speed, in a myriad of areas to extend recognition to the marriages of same-sex couples.
Voices Against DOMA: We've Got Friends

Voices Against DOMA: We've Got Friends

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 2:38pm

We're almost there – next week, on March 27, the Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in Edie Windsor's case. Essentially DOMA requires the federal government to treat legally married…

Going West: Looking Forward to Realizing the Promise of California

Going West: Looking Forward to Realizing the Promise of California

By James Gilliam, ACLU of Southern California at 2:42pm

Two years ago, my best friend asked me to officiate at her wedding. It was an honor to play that special role in her life, and I loved doing it. But standing before the crowd, I was struck by the unfortunate irony of the situation: Even as I married my friend and her husband, I could not marry my own partner. I decided that hers would be the last wedding I attended until I had the freedom to have my own.

Tale of Two Marriages

Tale of Two Marriages

By Lorraine Kenny, Center for Liberty at 11:53am

This is the story of two couples; two couples who come out of the same post-war generation, and who built their lives around the same emotional core of love, commitment, and devotion to one another. And yet, their relationships were marked very differently by history and by the laws that governed their lives.

The ACLU and Windsor: "The future is ours. Equality is in this country's DNA."

The ACLU and Windsor: "The future is ours. Equality is in this country's DNA."

By Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, ACLU at 10:45am

I sat in the Supreme Court yesterday hearing the historic arguments in the Windsor case. I felt a mixture of pride...

DOMA headed to the Supreme Court?

DOMA headed to the Supreme Court?

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 2:49pm

Today, we asked the United States Supreme Court to review the ACLU’s challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act on behalf of Edie Windsor.  A federal trial court struck down DOMA last month in Edie's case, holding that it violates the federal…

"Honey, We Did It!" – Edie Windsor Says Thank You

"Honey, We Did It!" – Edie Windsor Says Thank You

By Robyn Shepherd, ACLU at 4:41pm

Yesterday, Edie Windsor visited the ACLU and NYCLU offices to address the media after her amazing victory in her challenge against the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. Edie filed a lawsuit with the help of the ACLU and the law firm Paul, Weiss,…

A Look at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

A Look at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

By Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:31pm

In 1998, Congress created the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to draw attention to violations of religious freedom in other countries. The commissioners vote annually to list countries that are of particular concern or place…

Following Historic Supreme Court Decision Striking Down DOMA, Administration Acts

Following Historic Supreme Court Decision Striking Down DOMA, Administration Acts

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:32pm

Following Wednesday's historic decision by the Supreme Court striking down the heart...

Three New Marriage States in Two Weeks – All Eyes Are On You, Illinois!

Three New Marriage States in Two Weeks – All Eyes Are On You, Illinois!

By Selene Kaye, ACLU at 10:34am

Yesterday, Minnesota became the 12th state in the country to approve a law allowing same-sex couples to marry. This comes on the heels of Rhode Island and Delaware approving freedom to marry laws in the last two weeks, and historic victories at the…

Statistics image